During a staff meeting last November, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy was asked by an employee what “innovations” from the company he was most looking forward to.
Jassy bluntly named Amazon Care, the group’s new healthcare business, as one of her favorites. That’s according to audio recordings of the meeting obtained by Business Insider.
According to Jassy, Amazon wants to redefine the field of healthcare. Amazon Care will facilitate communication between patients and doctors through text messages and video calls. In some areas, prescriptions can also be mailed and physician assistants can call clients’ homes to run tests and collect lab samples.
According to Jassy, these telemedicine options, which can be accessed at any time, could significantly improve medical processes. Currently, these are still characterized by long wait times, unpredictable scheduling, and cumbersome prescription collections from pharmacies. In just ten years, doctor visits as we know them today would seem “crazy,” the Amazon boss said.
“This experience, which I suppose was the norm for a hundred years, will no longer exist in the future,” says Jassy. “Amazon Care and telemedicine, which has already been tested with our own staff here in Seattle and will soon be available nationally, will fundamentally change current processes.”
The Amazon CEO’s remarks at the employee meeting reflect unwavering enthusiasm for the company’s health care business at a time when all the big techs are making their way into America’s aging health care industry, from approximately $4.1 billion.
Since Amazon bought online pharmacy PillPack for nearly $750 million in 2018, the group’s healthcare offering has grown rapidly. Amazon now wants to duplicate those efforts. Not only has the responsible team been expanded, but further expansions in other areas are already being planned. This arises from internal documents and from the statements of seven people who know the matter and wish to remain anonymous. Amazon itself declined to comment to Business Insider.
Amazon’s “three pillar model”
Amazon’s healthcare division is primarily based on three areas: primary care, an online pharmacy, and healthcare diagnostics. The company’s vision is to unify these three areas into a single online store, a person involved in the process told Business Insider. Two others confirmed that even at this point, most teams were working separately.
Amazon’s vision was illustrated in an internal planning document presented to senior management of the group’s diagnostics division last year. Using the example of a parent with a sick child, Amazon’s healthcare team planned an all-in-one package that included a virtual doctor visit (via Amazon Care), an at-home testing kit with results available the same day (through Amazon Diagnostics), and follow-up care (through Amazon Pharmacy) included. The group called these areas “the three-pillar model.”
“While these businesses are still in their early stages, we are excited to be able to create a triple model of self-diagnosis, telemedicine and pharmacy for a much better and more affordable patient experience than most other offerings.” primary care,” the document says.
To make this vision a reality, Amazon expanded its healthcare team in late 2021, led by Neil Lindsay, former vice president of prime segment and marketing. Lindsay’s new position indicates a greater focus on the health sector. His team includes John Love, Director of Pharmacy, Kristen Helton, Director of Amazon Care, Kenneth Bedsted, Director of Diagnostics, and Administrator Ashwin Muralidharan. That’s according to an internal organizational chart presented to Business Insider in January. As reported by two Amazon employees, Lindsay reports to Doug Herrington, head of Amazon’s consumer business.
Amazon invests in primary health care
Amazon Care is at the heart of the new corporate strategy: The online mail-order company had already tested the new business area with its Seattle employees before making it available to other companies in the summer of 2021.
Amazon Care’s success so far has been limited. There are currently only a handful of clients, such as Precor, a manufacturer of fitness equipment. However, there are currently a number of projects on the starting blocks that could soon make Amazon the family doctor for many US citizens.
Last year, Amazon hired consulting firm PwC to explore possible expansion with Medicare Advantage, the lucrative private health insurance plan for seniors in the United States, two employees told Business Insider. Amazon is also talking to other health insurance companies and insurers about possible grants and aid. For example, members could use their insurance premium to charge for the Amazon Care service. The group has already reached agreements with the US supermarket chain Whole Foods and its insurance company, both companies confirmed to Business Insider.
The Amazon Care offer could also be expanded in the future. It currently covers a range of needs, from mental health care to diabetes care, but will be supplemented by other medical services. The two employees confirmed that the group wanted to cooperate with various start-ups and the health sector.
Amazon wants to expand its pharmaceutical offer
Since Love took on his new role, Amazon’s pharmaceutical division has been at odds with its new director.
Two people told Business Insider that the sector has been moderately successful since it launched in November 2020. It’s hard to inspire new customers for the service. Most of the growth would come from business customers. Among other things, Amazon stocks and fulfills orders for various pharmaceutical companies such as PruGen, a retailer of prescription skin care products.
To keep up with analog retail, Amazon had already considered opening pharmacies in branches of the Whole Foods supermarket chain, as well as a chain of independent drive-thru pharmacies.
Amazon wants to launch more self-tests
Amazon’s diagnostic division appears to be primarily focused on Covid-19 testing options at the moment. But the team has bigger goals. The company is already working on additional self-tests for infections that can lead to sexually transmitted diseases.
Recently, the diagnostic team has its own career page, where you can find around 30 job offers in the US.
Among other things, there is a search for a new head of department. Cem Sibay, former deputy director of diagnostics, joined the Amazon Prime video-on-demand team this year.
One of the job postings reads: “We still have work to do before the medical diagnostic healthcare industry is optimized to provide clients with the treatment and care they need.”
This text was translated from English by Anika Faber. You can find the original here.